Bighorn Ditch HeadgateEdit profile
The Bighorn Ditch Headgate, also known as the Bighorn Canal Headgate, was built in 1892 to provide irrigation to the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. The headgate structure diverted water from the Bighorn River. It was designed by William F. Graves, and construction was carried out by Crow laborers. The site is presently included in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The structure includes a diversion dam extending at an angle into the river to divert water through the headgate into a canal flowing parallel to the river. The headgate structure was built of dressed local limestone, and is 35 feet (11 m) wide, allowing a designed flow of 720 cubic feet (20,000 L) of water per second. Five iron gates controlled the flow. The headgate structure is intermittently inundated by water held in the Yellowtail Dam Afterbay reservoir. The Bighorn Ditch was instrumental in the change in Crow life from nomadic movement to a settled, agrarian life. Initial attempts at farming beginning in 1885 resulted in failure, and it became apparent that irrigation would be required for consistent yield. The 1891 Reno Ditch provided water to 4500 (later 12,500) Crow acres. The Bighorn Ditch allowed the expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching to 35,000 acres (140 km 2), and permitted the Crows to stop receiving Federal food subsidies.